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Shape and volume of craniofacial cavities in intentional skull deformations


Correspondence to: Roman H. Khonsari, Service de Chirurgie Maxillofaciale et Stomatologie, Centre Hospitalier Universtaire de Nantes, 1 place Alexis Ricordeau, 44000 Nantes, France. E-mail:


Intentional cranial deformations (ICD) have been observed worldwide but are especially prevalent in preColombian cultures. The purpose of this study was to assess the consequences of ICD on three cranial cavities (intracranial cavity, orbits, and maxillary sinuses) and on cranial vault thickness, in order to screen for morphological changes due to the external constraints exerted by the deformation device. We acquired CT-scans for 39 deformed and 19 control skulls. We studied the thickness of the skull vault using qualitative and quantitative methods. We computed the volumes of the orbits, of the maxillary sinuses, and of the intracranial cavity using haptic-aided semi-automatic segmentation. We finally defined 3D distances and angles within orbits and maxillary sinuses based on 27 anatomical landmarks and measured these features on the 58 skulls. Our results show specific bone thickness patterns in some types of ICD, with localized thinning in regions subjected to increased pressure and thickening in other regions. Our findings confirm that volumes of the cranial cavities are not affected by ICDs but that the shapes of the orbits and of the maxillary sinuses are modified in circumferential deformations. We conclude that ICDs can modify the shape of the cranial cavities and the thickness of their walls but conserve their volumes. These results provide new insights into the morphological effects associated with ICDs and call for similar investigations in subjects with deformational plagiocephalies and craniosynostoses. Am J Phys Anthropol 151:110–119, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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